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Peter Levinson

(7/1/1934 - 10/21/2008)

I’ve been leading the Big Phat Band since 1999, and as any big-band leader will tell you, keeping things afloat requires a good amount of resolve. You must keep going in the face of an onslaught of “No thank yous” that come your way, and sometimes it feels like you have the whole culture lined up against you. Then, one night after a concert at the Jazz Bakery in Culver City, Calif., I met Peter Levinson, who would go on to show me what the word “perseverance” really means.

I didn’t know Peter prior to that night (although I had the book he had written about Nelson Riddle) but as our relationship evolved, I realized that I had stumbled onto someone who believed in what we were trying to do, perhaps more than anybody else. He was unrelenting in his promotion of the Big Phat Band and would simply not take “no” for an answer. He secured features and articles on the band in all the major jazz publications (including JazzTimes) but also in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and Time magazine. When was the last time you saw a feature on big-band jazz in Time magazine? That was a huge accomplishment by any measure. Peter was the only guy who would call me to push me about things he thought I should be doing to promote the BPB. And even if I hung up the phone with more items on my “Stuff Peter Wants Me to Do List,” I would often catch myself thinking, Man, this guy really digs our band!

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